Yes! India is Safe for Women Travellers

‘If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.’ 

Dale Carnegie

Is India the most dangerous country in the world for women travellers? Wait & read this article before nodding your head in affirmative

According to the Global Peace Index (GPI) report, India is on the 28thplace out of 163 countries – way below Russia, Turkey, Israel and Mexico. The GPI measures safety based on three categories – level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarisation.

Good and Bad both co-exist everywhere, India has has its own share of problems when it comes to solo women travellers. Many travellers have narrated horrifying stories involving uninvited attention, of being scammed, selfie requests turning into harassment, aggressive and overbearing behaviour by men etc. But, can we isolate these incidents and say that it only happens in India? 

So, why do people think India is unsafe for women travellers? It is one of the most searched query on google!

Why are people scared?

1. Lack of Acclimation

Changes  makes us uncomfortable. We become scared when we face things or situations that are not in our control or don’t have an explanation for it. And India for sure is a joyride into the unknown. People visiting for the first time are overwhelmed and at times don’t know what to expect from this multi-cultural country. Familiarity with a situation or a place reduces fear response. That is why people living in the most dangerous places will still not feel unsafe.

I have never felt unsafe in New Delhi because I know my territory, I know when to go where, what to wear and how to talk to different people. 

2. Kernel of truth

When you hear people reinforcing a particular information, you start perceiving it as truth. Applying this generalisation, based on stereotypes, leads to prejudice. There is so much of negative information available online that one is forced to believe that there must be an element of truth!

3. Conditioned Fear

People believe that all negative events [experienced or observed] will most definitely lead to same disturbing results. Our brain starts believing the irrational outcomes.

For example, I have seen numerous movies where it is reinforced that women who travel alone gets mobbed, raped or murdered. So every time I travel, these thoughts haunts me and even initially discouraged me from travelling. This conditioned fear plays an important role in how people become prejudiced against other gender/communities/countries. 

4. Sensationalizing News

I don’t deny the fact that there is violence against women in India. Many Indians as well as foreign nationals, especially women, have encountered crimes like rape, murder, sexual assault, theft etc. Media often pounce on these news to make headlines and sensationalize it. But what the media don’t report are the steps taken by the govt after these crimes were reported.

India is not the ‘Rape Capital of the World’, Sweden, South Africa and USA are higher up on the list. Who can deny the knowledge of unreported campus rapes that takes place in US or the high number sexual assault cases in Sweden. 

5. Cultural Shock

The disorientation of being in a strange country, where people don’t speak your language, different food choices or ways of communicating adds to the reason for chaos around you. The unfamiliar traditions, lifestyle, social cues etc., throws us into a mayhem. You are sure to feel out of place.

When people come to India, they get hassled by noisy traffic, the sea of people at every corner, lack of personal space, people yelling at the top of their voices and men staring at them.  

Safe or unsafe? You decide for yourself when you visit India. Don’t let other’s experiences stop you from visiting my country, instead it should tell you how to be cautious. I have been travelling in India all by myself for the past 7 years now and I am telling you India is safe as any other country in the world.

Sure, there are challenges but what place wouldn’t have them? 

“People often believed they were safer in the light, thinking monsters only came out at night. But safety – like light – is a façade.” 
― C.J. Roberts, Captive in the Dark

How to travel safe in India?

I have been travelling, often in company of brave women or solo, across India for a decade. Over the years, I have learned much from facing uncomfortable to hostile situations, and evolved to avoid them.

Below, I have compiled a list of steps to travel safely through India:

1. Learn to say ‘NO’

Many foreign nationals, in the fear of hurting the sentiments of locals, end up saying Yes to things that makes them uncomfortable. If you are ‘white-skinned’ and is a ‘tourist’ coming to India for the first time, you will be literally shocked to see people’s obsession with white skin. It is the fascination that makes locals stare and ask to take ‘selfies’.

Please understand, it’s OKAY to say NO (politely) without offending people. An art you should practice with the first step you take in any foreign land.

2. Review of the Hotel/Homestay

A good idea is to check the reviews of the hotel or homestay before you book. Check websites like TripAdvisor, Facebook/Instagram page of the hotel, google pictures to get a general idea about the amenities and services available. 

I am sure you do it already, but cultivate the skill to identify fake reviews. I often start with the negative reviews, and do broad research on the reviewer as well. If a property has more than 30% bad reviews (1 to 3 stars) or worse, I avoid it.

Also talk to people who have travelled through these cities, their reviews might not be on the site but are more trustworthy. You can find them on travel boards, facebook groups or similar places in the world wide web.

3. Double check information

As I mentioned above, saying no is difficult especially for Indians. So, even when we don’t know something, we end up giving the wrong directions, wrong prices or even wrong advise. 

It is always better to talk to folks who have traveled through those cities & patiently listen to their experiences. Do keep in mind that we each have a unique style of travelling & different bars of expectations. A clean linen might be a high priority for you, but it need not for me – so ask questions on what matters to you.

4. Dress appropriately 

This is the most debatable topic in India right now. What is the most ‘appropriate dress’ to wear in India?

I can’t answer that for you. I myself have worn all kinds of clothes in all kinds of places. I was ogled at, commented upon and men even tried to get touchy at times, but luckily I have been able to handle these situations on my own by raising voice.

My advise would be to wear clothes as per the location, if you are going to a religious place then make sure you are covered head to toe, if it’s a historical place then wear something comfortable which covers your shoulders and at least is till your knee length. Men get frisky when you are in local markets or in public transport because these two places are crowded. Carry a scarf to cover up or keep a shrug handy. 

5. Don’t drink/smoke up with strangers

This should have been the first point on my list – but not all of us smoke/drink. I always held by this commandment religiously; drink to enjoy not to get drunk. Once you are unable to objectively control the situation, things might get out of hand. Many people in India think that women who drink have loose character or are promiscuous.  

6. Stop being TOO friendly

Be nice and polite to people but avoid being extra friendly. A majority of people in India consider over friendly people are easy to sleep with. When you are a woman travelling alone, you will most definitely get into a situation where men read over friendliness as a cue for flirting. 

7. Ask for help

Traditionally, we are taught to be helpful to others in times of need. If you ask for help in India, there will be many people who will come to your rescue.

Make sure you ask people who are accompanied by females and families, avoid asking for help from a group of men. 

8. Research well about a destination

The idea of ‘going with the flow’ might seem cool and very hip but when you are in a country that is so diverse, geographically and culturally, it is advisable to research about your destination beforehand. It also gives you confidence to move around. Dropping names of places or talking like you know the area will definitely help you. It shows to the other person that you are not completely unaware of the area.

If you are aware of your surrounding it gives you a sense of control which gives you confidence. 

9. Trust your instincts

If it doesn’t feel right, then you should just leave it.

Trusting your instincts is very important when you are travelling on your own. It is okay to spend a few extra rupees, or miss out on a good deal or let go of an amazing experience. There is nothing more important than your safety.

Also, its not a sign of cowardice if you back out of a challenge. Your friend, co-traveller or the person who questioned your grit might be genuine but then the chances of him being aware of what awaits you there is highly improbable. 

9. Avoid going out alone at night

Anybody who is from India or has travelled to India, will definitely tell you not to travel at night alone. Except for few big cities, most of India reach home at dusk & sleeps early. Help will be hard to find, from a mode of transportation to a response for your cries for rescue. 

10. Never arrive at a destination at night

Another rule of travelling I follow wholeheartedly. This is an extension of the last point. It is difficult to reach your destination if you arrive at night.

Once a friend reached Manali at 12 am midnight, she didn’t get any taxi, neither she booked a hotel in advance and there was no one on the streets to guide her. She hitchhiked to her destination, it was sheer luck that the guy she took lift from was a gentleman. But to think about it, it is so scary to hitchhike like this at the wee hours in an unknown place.

11. Plan your first day at a destination

It is always a good idea to book your stay for the first day, to get a hang of the destination. I always book a safe place after checking the reviews even if I end up paying a few more bucks. 

12. Interact with locals on social media before the trip

Joining a Travel Facebook Group like Backpackers and Travellers of India, Homestays in India, The Himalayan Travel Group, Backpackers and Travellers India are some of the most helpful ones. Locals can appraise you about the place, things to do and see, and tips to get your way through this crazy country.

13. Keep someone informed about your location

Someone should always know about your travel plans. Share where you will be, the place where you are staying and tentative route of your travel. I and my partner share each other’s location via Google Maps and I always share the email of all my hotel bookings with him. This way if anything goes wrong, there will be someone looking out for me. 

We all talk about safety in India and how day by day it is becoming unbearable to stay in this dangerous country. But, how many of us can say that ‘Yes, I have done something to make this country safe’. How many times, you have stepped forward to diffuse a difficult situation for others or how many times you have helped people in locating a destination or gone that extra mile to unsure safety for women? Until and unless, we take a step towards safety, we can’t expect the govt. or others to make it safe for our loved ones. 

If you are travelling to India for the first and need any help or just want to know about my beautiful country then shoot me a mail at I will try to assist you in any way I can. 

author --
If it wasn't for some dear friends who backed out of a trip to Ladakh, Suman wouldn't have been sharing these travel stories today! It was an eye opener, her first solo trip. Beyond the shenanigans of youthful days, Suman experienced a world of many dimensions. With her words, Suman hopes to share and inspire.

68 thoughts on “Yes! India is Safe for Women Travellers

  1. India is a really awesome country. Lot’s of people are traveling in India and most of the female traveler is solo traveling in India. Actually, your right information share on this blog. India is safety for woman traveler. I am happy with your blog. Valuable information you shared. Thank You!

  2. There are some great pieces of advice here. Whilst I am yet to go to India (although it is the very top of my bucket list) I have already had people try to warn me off it as a destination. It is the same as anywhere, respect the local customs and be sensible to keep yourself safe. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. If you love culture and nature, we got both. You should definitely visit India. Yes being Indian I also recommend not only to women but men too that do your research properly because there are some points that needs to known by you which makes you comfortable.

  4. Great tips. I think they can be applied to any country. A lot of staying safe is just common sense. When we lived in China, we had people as us for pictures with them all the time. My daughter and I are both very white skinned with very blonde hair. They were never rude or pushy, but it still got old after a time. A year of that was difficult. Most people have a problem with saying no and appearing rude. Sometimes, you just have to say it.

  5. Very helpful for those planning to travel to India. But actually, any place (except a war zone) is as safe or as dangerous as any other place in the world. That’s why we don’t exactly believe travel advisories.

    If it’s as dangerous as what media portrays the place is, then why are people actually living out their normal lives there? That’s basically why we’re skeptical on travel advisories.

  6. This is such a useful and important post for me. I’ve never been to India, and honestly, have been put off because of the horror stories you read about how they treat women. It’s so good you’ve debunked a lot of these myths, and also given some useful tips on how to behave when there. Very interesting too on the hotel reviews, now I know!

  7. It’s great that you debunk this idea that India is not safe for female travellers. It is true that some news about violence against women there have been over-sensationalised, which then lead to prejudice. I think when we travel, it’s normal to get a culture shock especially, as you’ve pointed out, in a place where you don’t speak the language. But that’s why we travel – to experience different cultures. You’ve listed great tips on how to stay safe. Never arriving at night to a destination is spot on. It was very brave of your friend to hitchhike. I wouldn’t even do that in Australia.

  8. Hello Suman. Although I agree with most of what you’ve said, I do think that a woman would be a lot safer in many other countries than she would in India (I am from New Delhi by the way). Rape is common in several other countries in the world but being molested in public transportation / crowded spaces – not so much. I have grown up in different cities in India and also travelled across the world and in my opinion, although a woman has to be careful wherever she goes, there is MORE attention required for your own safety in India than several other places. Having said that, your tips are extremely useful – keeping someone informed of your location at all times, not being out alone at night, etc. Very useful for woman travelling to India for the first time, especially solo.

  9. Like they say, “Be Roman in Rome” – I agree with you, places and situations should rule and regulate our clothes and reactions after all just like C J Roberts says, ” Safety – like light – is a façade.”

  10. I took my four children to India about 18 months ago. Two of them are girls and they were 20 and 13 years old. We travelled first class – stayed in 5 star accommodation and had a car and driver everywhere we went. I have been to over 60 countries and my kids 40. I can appreciate all of your reasons for why you think India is seen as an unsafe place to travel, but the reality is the country is a landmine for females whether you are alone or otherwise. We were stared at, followed, and gawked everywhere we went even with 6’4 and 6’6′ husband and sons around. Did they ever cross a line? No. I learned to say no for photos or other type of friendly harassment. But I also didn’t feel relaxed. It is one thing to survive a trip – enjoy the culture, the excitement, the food, the driving, but definitely question whether we were safe all the time. It is another to go to another country and have the same experience but never feel uncomfortable or unsafe. India is an amazing country but it is also a very complex and challenging country to be a female in.

  11. This is all great to hear! India has been on my list for forever, but I’ve always been a little scared because of stories I’ve heard. Good to hear from another female traveler that it’s safe!

  12. Thanks Suman, for such a comprehensive post on this topic. I hear of a lot of solo women travelers in India. I don’t think I will ever do it. I’ve lived in India as a student for over 8 years and unfortunately men think it’s totally ok to say anything, touch anything squeezes or press any body part any time, anywhere, particularly if they see young girls. I’ve never heard that to be ok in any other country.
    I think it’s only Indian men (and some wanna be cool Indian women) making jokes on #MeToo movement and arguing for their insensitive.
    I’m sure solo-travel is possible but my family will never allow in India.

  13. Thank you for this post! Most of the information I’ve found on if it’s safe to travel to India as a solo female is like “yes because I did it and I’m fine!” But I love that you broke it down into why people might think it’s not safe so we’re able to understand our biases and also how we can actually stay safe!

  14. I think you did an excellent job explaining how a lot of fear comes from not knowing the culture. These are things people need to read and learn and understand in order to help quell some irrational fears. Great post!

  15. This does sound pretty common sense advice to me, but it is so great you took the time to write it up and explain the peculiarities in the case of India!

  16. I spent a year living in India and even though I’m not a girl I agree with you. A lot of girls travel solo around the country nowadays. And if it was meant to be, bad things will happen anywhere, including one’s hometown, no matter how safe we might think it would be.

  17. India is a difficult place for many travellers, but safety is never a guarantee in any country. One could take all the measures and still find themselves in a dangerous situation and that’s true anywhere on the planet. India being a deeply patriarchal country makes things more dicey as the victims are blamed and not the perpetrators. I think it’s important to keep your wits about you and take general safety measures wherever you might be

  18. This is a very comprehensive guide to how to stay mindful and safe as a female traveler in India. I’ve been to India three times and spent about 6 months total in the country, and I LOVE it! But I can see why many foreign women feel uncomfortable there, I was brushed up against and touched many times, and can’t go anywhere without getting ogled at by men because I look foreign. Ultimately, I still think India is a safe place for women to travel to if they are smart and aware of their surroundings. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  19. A very sound guide; saying this as a fellow Indian woman and traveller. Being over friendly here is absolutely not a good idea, foreign or otherwise. I have been molested more times in India while travelling (twice on the train!) as compared to 40 odd countries I have been to (0 times). I find India unsafe to be honest, but your tips go a long way to minimise the unsafe aspect of it.

  20. Sorry I can’t agree with this post I born and brought in India, still you can’t travel in night,Even travelling in public transport system without getting touched is not possible.

  21. Great Information! Whenever I go to a new place I always do my research especially a different country. Not just for safety but also so I can get the most out of my stay.

  22. Wow this is such an amazing post! I love your tips. I myself have been wanting to go to India for a long time and haven’t gone. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  23. This is incredible advice for any destination – BUT – I will shamefully admit that I have bought into the stereotypes and lies about India. I have been scared to visit as a tourist and I am missing out on a beautiful place, food and culture! Thank you for sharing your inside perspective.

  24. When I said to my friends that I was going to India with my friend they were all like: “Are you crazy? Two girls traveling alone around India?”. We felt absolutely safe during the whole trip. Anyway India is a difficult country and of course there are a few things to consider to feel safe. You definitely listed them all and your tips are great. I totally agree with you especially when you say to always keep someone informed about your location. Great post!

  25. This is very helpful for solo female traveler. Many bad news of traveling in India, I feel it like overwhelming. Just to be well prepared and be cautious, everything will be fine.

  26. Thank you for writing this article about India. I know my family was concerned for me when I went to India for work due to the negativity in the news. As with any country, you have to know your surroundings and follow your gut. I can’t wait to return India. Would love some tips on visiting New Dehli!

  27. Suman, this is such an informative post for female travelers outside India asking so much about the safety of the country. I don’t live there anymore. But I liked how you summarized every point carefully that each woman traveler should be aware of while visiting the country. Thanks for this.

  28. Safety when traveling is something I think about a lot. Not in the sense that I am afraid, but more I feel bad that so many people are afraid to travel and miss out. I totally agree about the news and online sources highlighting any negative event. Thank you for all your tips, I think tips from someone who has actually spent a good amount of time in a place, have so much more weight than all the “news articles” floating around.

  29. This is awesome! One of my friends is traveling to India for a wedding in February; I will definitely be sharing this with her.

  30. Great article. I visited Kerala with an Indian friend ages ago and would like to go to India again. South America also has the reputation of being dangerous but I live in Peru now and I’m totally fine. Taking all the precautions you mentioned, of course.

  31. This is beautifully written, thank you for sharing this first hand account. I have similar issues with my home country Egypt and it’s so hard to explain the stigma so eloquently!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I can totally relate with that coming from India. I once met a girl from Egypt and she was saying the same thing.

  32. I have been to India three times and I have never felt unsafe. I met one of my best friends during my first trip there. My third visit was to attend his sister’s wedding. I think that if you respect the culture and be sensible, you will have a wonderful time in India.

  33. I have always hoped to visit India and I agree with you with the fact that over exposing certain actions of a few will make people believe that everyone in the particular country is like this. No country is 100% safe, there will always be dangerous people.

  34. Good to know. I do hope to visit India one day. It’s such a lovely area, and I always enjoy learning about other cultures.

  35. Thank you for this honest review about India. I also agree with this statement ‘If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.’

  36. Thanks for this article on how to be safe when traveling in India, a place I would like to visit one day. These are great tips that can be used no matter what country you are in. Thanks for including some really great statistics which help to reinforce your many great points.

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